Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Centre is dedicated to enabling children and youth with disabilities or special needs to achieve their personal best.
Each year, more than 7,500 young people and their families from across Ontario benefit from our outpatient clinics, hospital care, assistive technology services and community outreach activities. In partnership with families and communities, we create unique programs and services to enrich the independence and quality of life of the children and families we serve.
Bloorview MacMillan’s award-winning research and education extend internationally to support people of all ages with disabilities.
Two dozen women, a house, and a dream.
Those are the roots of Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Centre.
More than 100 years ago, in 1899, a group of community-minded women met in Toronto to discuss the creation of a “Home for Incurable Children”. They called themselves the “Ladies Committee.”
“While they were socially privileged, they were very aware of the community and the need to provide a safe, caring environment for children with chronic illnesses and disabilities,” says Magda Zakanyi, archives co-ordinator at Bloorview MacMillan.
Today, Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Centre is Ontario’s largest children’s rehabilitation facility, providing hospital care, outpatient clinics, assistive technology services and community outreach activities to about 7,500 children and youth with disabilities and their families each year.
“As much as things have changed, the key components of care have remained the same,” Magda says. “From the very beginning, the philosophy of allowing children to achieve their personal best was very important to the Ladies Committee. Education was important, spiritual growth was important, and recreation and skills development were important”.
Many of the home’s founders had already helped establish the Hospital for Sick Children in 1875, and were concerned with the lack of services available for children following acute-care treatment at the hospital.
“Essentially, they took on all of the financial management of establishing a new institution,” Magda explains. They were consummate deal-makers, using their social connections to publicize their cause and secure donations. Within seven months, a house and furnishings for 15 children had been donated at 138 Avenue Rd., five physicians had signed on, deferring payment for their work. Miss Underhill, a superintendent, was hired for $15 per month. Donations included ice cream every Saturday for the children’s tea.
The greatest change over the last century has been that “as medical knowledge, scientific discovery and technological innovation have progressed, Bloorview MacMillan has been able to do a lot more,” says Stephen Trumper, a former trustee and client of Bloorview MacMillan. “What was considered incurable then was probably everything we would accept as possible now.”